The Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees approved at their quarterly meeting Tuesday, Nov. 18, the issuance of bonds not to exceed $10 million for three facilities – engineering, a softball complex, and a world-class track.
SAU President Dr. David Rankin told the Board how important the addition of Engineering has been for the University, and that new facilities are needed to support continued growth in that area. The softball facilities will include public restrooms, locker rooms, coaching offices and ticket booths. A new track facility is needed since the return of the program in Fall 2014 brought 51 new student-athletes to campus.
The Board also approved all of the academic proposals from SAU and SAU Tech, including a new and unique 2+2 Engineering Welding collaboration between the two institutions. SAU Tech Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs reported that this new program will be the first engineering welding program in the South, and one of only a few in the nation.
SAU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Trey Berry presented the following academic revisions for the Board, which were all subsequently approved:
• Creation of a new Department of Performing Arts and Mass Communication; deletion of Department of Music and the Department of Theatre and Mass Communication.
• Creation of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) that will replace the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theatre.
• Creation of a BFA in Musical Theatre, which will be unique to public universities in Arkansas and will greatly strengthen recruiting efforts for SAU theatre.
• Creation of a BFA in Music Performance and a BFA in Music with Studies in Business.
• ADE mandated changes to Education degrees.
• Making the Master of Education School Counseling available completely online. This change, along with completion of the CACREP accreditation process, would make this program only one of three such accredited/online programs in the nation.
• Make the Master of Education Student Affairs and College Counseling available completely online.
• Creation of a Chemistry B.S. with an Environmental Toxicology option, which would utilize recent the strengths of recent faculty hires as well as the capabilities of the NRRC.
• Deletion of the Chemistry B.S. Environmental Science option due to low enrollment.
• Creation of an Engineering Technology option in the Engineering Physics B.S.
Dr. Rankin shared the following items in his report to the Board:
• SAU is thankful for the donation of 400-acres of prime land near the Red River by Ted Jackson Monroe, Jr. Dr. David Ashby helped cultivate this donation. Read the complete story on the SAU News website.
• The Grand Opening of the $4.5 million Story Arena was a grand success.
• SAU staff was quite impressive in efforts leading up to and during the Murphy U.S.A. Classic. Mulegating was successfully transported to the football game at El Dorado, and with 4,987 in attendance SAU was able to reach a big audience.
• Dr. Abdel Bachri and Louis Roy were commended for their work with Physics and Criminal Justice students, respectively.
• The Madrigal Feast, coordinated by Dr. David DeSeguirant and featuring SAU choral students, proved to be “one of the most fun events” in recent history with the food and performances.
• The Angel Tree will again be hosted by SAU efforts. It supported more than 700 children in 2013.
• Senior marketing major Carli Langley has set the world on fire this year with many accolades and top finishes for the SAU Lady Muleriders Cross Country team. She finished first at the GAC Conference Championship, and lead the team to regionals.
• The Making Magnolia Blossom team at SAU, comprising staff, faculty and students, were commended for their efforts that resulted in a “Big Splash” to transform Magnolia’s Main Street.
SAU Vice President for Finance Paul McLendon and SAU Tech Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Gaye Manning gave their respective financial reports to the Board. Both were happy to report positive audit conclusions for their respective institutions.
SAU Tech Chancellor Dr. Corbet Lamkin provided updates from the Camden campus. Enrollment continues to be a critical issue, resulting in necessary and difficult budget cuts there this year. Johnie Sue Hall of the SAU Tech Faculty Senate provided an uplifting report on student success, with the overall message that the SAU Tech faculty and staff are there for the students and that great students are coming through there and going on to do great things.